Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Protracted DC Search Raises Eyebrows

Well, so long, Mike Nolan. We actually never wanted you and your silly 3-4 defense anyway. Have fun in Denver.

And, happy trails, Gregg Williams. We all knew you'd just be using us for a stepping stone anyway, and we are actually happy you're probably headed down to New Orleans.

Well, with that all out of the way, its time to get down to the real DC interviews.

Wait, Winston Moss? Jim Haslett? When do we hit Bob Slowik territory?

I'm no proponent for rushing into anything blindly, but I also balance it by identifying what you want and making sure you go out and give it your best shot. I'm growing more and more concerned that our DC search may be as much a sign of methodical interviewing as it could be that Green Bay may not be the ideal landing spot for some of the prime time DC candidates.

Bruce Smith over at PackerChatters touches on the idea that Green Bay may no longer be the NFL Mecca it became in the 90's following the signing of Reggie White and the trade for Brett Favre. Incidentally, I watched the "NFL's Greatest Games" last night of the 1994 Detroit/Green Bay playoff game on ESPN2, and the players and coaches mentioned repeatedly that Green Bay was (quite recently) once the place you ended up at when no one else would take you.

Certainly, there is some credence to what Bruce is saying. With the departure of Favre, any connection to the mystique of the 90's is gone, and this team is now built on the work of Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, and 90-odd years of memories and tradition.

I don't know if just Green Bay being an unattractive place to come as a player or coach is the answer though, which Bruce also touches on. There are other factors that can impact a decision to come here, including Thompson's reluctance to bring in top-flight free agents, his shying away from the defensive side of the ball in the draft the past few years, and the somewhat tight-fisted reputation he has earned over time, including what he pays his coaches.

However, I still don't know if that is the whole ball of wax. There's just a few little scraps of information that keep popping out to me.

* The JSOnline opined that Ted Thompson may well be sticking his nose into the hiring process. This set up speculation that McCarthy, who was believed to want to hire his former head coach in Nolan, might be at odds with Thompson, who did not want a coach who would require an overhaul of the present talent.

* Gregg Williams, according to JSOnline again, is likely leaning toward the Titans in his dreams, and the Saints as a fall-back. It appears that the Packers are a distant third in his eyes. Likely, Thompson would prefer to avoid a bidding war for a coordinator.

* Winston Moss, the defacto fallback if the big names failed to sign on the dotted line, said on AOL Fanhouse that he would be willing to work for the Oakland Raiders "in any capacity". His words implied gushing praise for Al Davis, which might also imply a desire to leave the Packers "in any capacity", too.

The speculation that Moss may want out of Green Bay, and that the two big names interviewed by McCarthy thus far have apparently decided to go to greener pastures, brings concern that the Packers may have muddied the waters too much. Firing a bevy of coaches one season removed from a 13-3 record may have satisfied the rabid fan base calling for it, but has to certainly give pause to anyone potentially coming in to replace them.

And, reflecting back further, since the Glory Days of the 1990's, quick firings for mediocrity haven't been uncommon. Ray Rhodes was fired after one 8-8 season in 1999. After posting a 53-27 record over his first six seasons, Mike Sherman was ousted after his first losing season.

Now, I'm certain any of us can post a litany of reasons why Rhodes had to go, and we've seen ad nauseum the reasons that Sherman should have gone (most related to his GM duties).

But now, as you are trying to attract legitimate candidates to come in and be given the keys to the defense, having a reputation as a franchise with a hair-trigger pink slip machine may not be the way to build your credibility.

The comments by Moss, while subject to guesses as to its significance, have to also present the possibility that McCarthy isn't interested in him as DC, and he would just as soon go elsewhere, too.

So, is there a poisonous atmosphere at 1265? Is there a impression of dysfunction and desperation between the coach and front office? Are both Thompson and McCarthy suddenly feeling like they have to prove themselves to the new team president, who may be inclined to replace people he did not hire with men he may be more comfortable with?

Or, are prospective coaches seeing a pattern of irrational expectations, with a recent past of firing any coach who can't post better than a .500 record? This is a business, after all. We were reminded of that repeatedly last summer during FavreGate, and now it looks like perhaps the way the Packers have approached their business dealings may be coming back to haunt them.

I may be completely wrong, of course. Maybe all of this furtiveness is just part of a waiting game for Sean McDermott to end his season and start interviewing. Maybe the Packers are taking their usual deliberate approach to hiring and are making sure they have the best man for the job: maybe it was the Packers who told Nolan to take a hike.

It could be. But the longer it takes the Packers to make their move, the more they interview coaches who end up taking jobs elsewhere, it increases the spotlight on a coach and GM already weary of it after the past season.


By the way, you heard it here (sort of) first. The guys over at Scout.com have offered Tim Lewis as a dark horse candidate for defensive coordinator. Yes, I said it half in jest over at CheeseheadTV, but I did say it:
Just so you know, Aaron, I’m “hearing” Tim Lewis is going to be our DC next year. I know there’s as much chance as that happening as Jarrett Bush returning to the team next year…but, WOW…if I’m right, I’m a freakin’ genius, and you HEARD IT HERE FIRST. (1-7-09)
Now, I actually like Tim Lewis...remember him fondly as a player for the Pack back in the 80's (and really thought his injury set the Packers back for years..he should have manned the safety position for a decade). I also stumped for him as Packers' head coach after the Packers fired Mike Sherman. I don't know how solid of a HC candidate he was then, or even is now, but I think he might have what it takes to work with the talent we have and try and make it work.

TundraVision's choice: Tim Lewis. Can't be any worse than Jim Haslett. Can it?


Franklin Hillside said...

Come on, it's not like New Orleans has been a popular place to play or coach, Denver's defense is not exactly something anyone would look forward to working with. There's obviously many other factors at play here other Green Bay not being a popular destination.

It's easy to jump there, but I think that is far from the truth.

C.D. Angeli said...

Oh, I don't know Franklin. I certainly see and give credence to your point. I think there is indeed a multitude of reasons that Williams/Nolan would skip by Green Bay, and I think I noted several of those in the article.

But, all things equal: same job duties, same salary...what is going to make a potential free agent or coaching candidate choose Green Bay over another team?

The Favre debacle (which I try to avoid talking about) may also factor in to all of this...it has a way of polarizing everyone. Put all that in with TT's approach to building a team and penny pinching ways, McCarthy's quick hook on his defensive staff, and some behind-the-scenes uncertainty as to whether or not the guy who is interviewing you is the same guy who makes the decision?

Add to all that the talent base, and you wonder if there's a reason why an established coach may choose to bypass GB.